Dealing with disengagement: the hidden cost of staff turnover

While the expense associated with staff turnover is a cost that no business owner wants to bear, most understand that it’s par for the course when employees leave or are moved on.

But generally, when principals consider the cost of exiting staff, they’re thinking about the money spent on recruiting and training a new employee.

What they often fail to consider though, is the period of time prior to resignation, where the disgruntled employee has become disengaged from the business, resulting in a significant loss in productivity.

“In my experience it can often be the disengagement period that has the potential to be the most expensive,” says real estate performance specialist and co-founder of Agent Dynamics, Julie Davis.

According to Davis, the employment cycle of an individual within a business is typically comprised of three categories.

Category one is when the individual is a productive member of the team, on the right plane, with the right crew, and heading toward the right destination.

Category two is when they have become disengaged with the current destination, start considering alternatives and move themselves to what Davis calls, the Transit Lounge.

“The Transit Lounge is where they sit and wait for the next plane, the one that will take them to a new destination,” she says.

“When they are in the Transit Lounge, lead-generation and follow-up slows down.”

Finally, she says, they move themselves into to the Departure Lounge, where they know where they want to go, but they want to maximise their departure opportunities by catching the right flight at the most suitable time for them.

“Sales team members care little if the sale is made because they won’t be getting paid for it anyway, and why would a Property Manager bother get accurate quotes to repair a heater for a tenant if they are moving agencies in seven days’ time?”

Business owners and team leaders need to be able to identify the seven signs that a team member is becoming, or has become, disengaged.

“My experience is that if detected early enough, the issues can be addressed and the team member re-engaged. This would typically need to take place in Category two.

“Once they have moved into Category three however, re-engagement is almost impossible, and the best solution is often to assist with their departure.”

According to Agent Dynamics, the seven disengagement signs to look for are;

  • lowering of standards
  • missing Deadlines/failing to meet targets
  • regular complaining a.k.a ‘the whinger’
  • apathy and lethargy
  • “it’s someone else’s problem”
  • lack of communication a.k.a. ‘the silent treatment’
  • vocal disruptors.

Over the next few weeks we’ll delve into the seven signs of disengagement in more detail, including some pointers on how to best manage them.

“Remember that the longer that it takes you to identify and manage a disengaged employee the more collateral damage is likely to occur with their colleagues and clients.”